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Once Upon a Certain Year
By JOHNNIE LEE MOORE JR.
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Johnnie Lee Moore Jr.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneOnce upon a certain year, there lived an old man by the name of Midas Dakota.
Midas had a wife named rose, and together they lived in a small country town called Hawthornianville.
Midas and rose loved the quiet peaceful town of Hawthornianville, especially when they got special visits from their beloved seven-year-old grandson named Tommy.
Tommy thought the world of his grandparents. He loved to hear great stories from them. They were full of wisdom, and Tommy loved to ask them a lot of questions, which they were always happy to answer.
One time Tommy's parents were going on a special one-week vacation cruise to celebrate their tenth year wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, they couldn't take Tommy with them. They needed someone whom they could trust to baby-sit and watch over Tommy. Who could they trust more than Tommy's favorite grandparents, Midas and rose Dakota?
Tommy arrived at his grandparents' home on a Sunday afternoon, after his grandparents returned from church. Tommy's parents were good—hearted, loving people. But unfortunately, they both worked so much that they rarely had time to go to church. Therefore, Tommy thought that going to church was for special occasions, like Christmas and Easter. But his grandparents would change all of that.
After Tommy's parents left, Tommy helped his grandparents around the house with the chores before it was time for supper.
After eating supper, rose and Midas wanted to relax and enjoy themselves by watching a little television. Tommy joined them on the sofa while they scanned the channels of the television set to see what they wanted to watch.
Finally, they stopped on a channel that was very familiar to them. This channel was showing an all day marathon of two of the special old time classics, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.
Little Tommy watched a couple of episodes with his grandparents and became very impressed by what he saw. Because of the computer craze and modern day television, Tommy had never heard of these two classic shows. Therefore, they watched until it was time for bed.
Finally, before going to bed, little Tommy had many questions to ask his grandparents. "Who had more powers, Samantha or Jeannie?" "Who was prettier, Samantha or Jeannie?" Who is older, and which show came on first?" "Who played Samantha and Jeannie?" "Who is older in real life; are they still alive?"
All those questions, Midas and rose tried to answer the best way they could.
"Samantha and Jeannie were a little different in personality and style. Yet, because of their similarities, they would always be linked and compared with each other," rose answered.
Little Tommy was truly amazed that these two legendary women were almost the exact same age, and that their shows ran almost at the exact same time.
"I can tell you this," Midas said, "Barbara Eden and Elizabeth Montgomery were actually one calendar year apart in age, but there were a couple of significant people in our history, who were likewise often compared with one another in real life; people who were born the exact same year; people who had different styles, yet same missions; people who rose to the top of their field at about the same time."
"Oh really, please tell me who?" Tommy begged. "oh please, please, please tell me."
"Okay, I'll tell you a story," Midas answered, finally giving in to Tommy's pleas. "But you must first promise me that you will go straight to bed."
"I promise," Tommy answered.
After they said their prayers, Midas tucked Tommy into his bed and gave him this bedtime story:
Once upon a certain year, when Lyndon B. Johnson was President of the United States, there were born two babies who would grow up to be perhaps two of the greatest hip-hop rap artists-turned actors of all time, with the younger of the two being the greater of the two.
In the city of Bayshore, Long island, was born a baby by the name of James Todd Smith. Several months later, in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was born a baby by the name of Willard Christopher Smith, Jr.
They both started rapping at a very young age. The rapping revolution started in the mid 1970's, and both James and Willard were inspired by what they heard.
Before he became a rapper, little James Todd spent most of his time singing in the church choir, while little Willard used his charming and sly demeanor to become the class clown in school. Such a behavior earned him the nickname, "Prince." Unfortunately, little James Todd turned to rap music to emotionally escape the violent and troublesome relationship of his parents.
At the age of twelve little James was rapping in studios. It was at this moment that he came to be known as LL Cool J, an acronym for Ladies Love Cool James. LL Cool J bought a lot of hip-hop records to get the label's address so he could send in his demo tapes. One of the companies he sent one of his demo tapes to was Def Jam records. After listening to his demo tape, Def Jam immediately signed LL. Shortly thereafter he released his first record, entitled, radio in 1985.
While still in his teens, young Will Smith met a young man by the name of Jeffery Towns.
The two immediately hit it off, and D. J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince were born, with Will Smith doing the rapping and Jeff Towns controlling the music.
Throughout the late 1980's, both LL Cool J, and D. J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince ascended to the top elite of all the rap artists with hits like, "I Can't Live Without My radio," "I'm Bad," "I need Love," "Girls Ain't nothing But Trouble," "nightmare on My Street" and
"I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson."
In the late 1980's, rap music became so popular, that they decided to add a rap category at the Grammy Awards, with Will Smith earning hip-hop's very first Grammy.
Unlike most of the hip-hop rap artists who followed them, both LL Cool J and the Fresh Prince were two of the few rap artists who didn't have to use profanity to sell their records.
This is an epitome in itself, which set them apart from the rest.
By the time the 1990's rolled around, both LL and the Fresh Prince discovered that their incredible talents were far beyond rap music. LL was the first one out the gate with his cameo appearance in the movie, Krush Groove in 1985.
Likewise, Will Smith hit immediate stardom in the field of acting with the popular hit television show "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." LL Cool J shortly followed the same path with a similar hit television show of his own called, "in The house." Both men had the privilege of working with the talented actor, Alfonso Ribeiro, who was a co-star of both series.
Although they both reached a pinnacle that very few rap artists before them had ever reached, both Will Smith and LL Cool J would show the world why their acting talent was much bigger than television. Will Smith enjoyed success with mega hits like Bad Boys I and Bad Boys ii, Men in Black I and Men in Black ii, independence Day, enemy of the State, Ali, and The Pursuit of happiness. LL Cool J hit it big with movies like Deep Blue Sea, Any Given Sunday, Charlie's Angels, Kingdom Come, roller Ball, Deliver Us from Eva, and S.W.A.T.
Along with ice T and ice Cube, the two became the greatest hip-hop rapper-turned—actor talent of all time.
But unlike the previous two, these two men, both Will Smith and LL Cool J, were born in the exact same year.
Among the best actors of his generation, Will Smith proved that his talent was something to be reckoned with. Twice he was nominated for Best Lead Actor in a motion picture film for his respective roles in the movies, Ali and The Pursuit of happiness, losing out only to Denzel Washington and Forrest Whitaker.
Both James Todd Smith and Will Smith have won numerous awards in the three major entertainment medias : movies, television and music. And with both being very young, there is a good chance that their best days are yet to come.
In conclusion you may find many people who can make the claim of having enjoyed similar success, but not too many have had the privilege of being born the same year. That's why no one else in their field can be compared to them.
They were the greatest in their field: born the same year, and ascending to the top at the exact same time.
Chapter TwoThe very next morning, little Tommy got up bright and early with joy.
"Wow, that was a great story you told me last night, Grandpa," he said.
"I know, I know," Grandpa answered. "now go wash, brush your teeth and freshen up for breakfast."
After he brushed his teeth, Tommy was still jubilant with a radiant smile. "I never realized how much two people could change the whole world," he said.
"Well, it's true," Grandpa answered. "They both changed the world in their own distinctive ways."
"Do you think that one day I can change the world like that?" Tommy asked.
"Anything is possible, if you put your heart and mind to it," Grandpa answered.
"But how would I know what God wants me to be?" Tommy asked.
"When the time is right, you will know."
Little Tommy stood before his Grandpa with a pondering expression on his face.
After a brief moment of silence, he exhaled and said, "I think I want to grow up to be a hip-hop rap artist."
Cautiously amazed to hear little Tommy say that, Midas Dakota answered, "Well, if that is your sincere dream, then go for it. But like I said, when the time is right, you will know. Just pray and ask God about it, then wait on him. He will give you an answer."
Shortly thereafter, little Tommy joyfully gathered himself together at the breakfast table with his grandparents.
"What's for breakfast?" he asked, while letting the dainty smell of the breakfast aroma engulf his nostrils."
"Biscuits, syrup, oatmeal and orange juice," Grandma answered with a smile.
"Oh wee, I just love your biscuits, syrup, oatmeal and orange juice," Tommy answered with joy.
After saying their grace, little Tommy and his grandparents delighted themselves with a very delicious breakfast.
After breakfast, Tommy helped his grandma plant in the garden, and then he helped his grandpa plow the field. When they were finished with their chores for the day, little Tommy spent the remainder of the day playing around the house. The more he played, the more he started wishing and hoping that he could one day grow up to become a hip-hop rap artist.
Later that night, after they ate supper and watched a little television, it was time for bed.
"Please tell me another bedtime story. Oh please, please, please tell me a bedtime story," Tommy begged his grandfather.
"Okay, I'll tell you another story," Grandpa answered. "But once again, you have to promise me that you will go straight to bed."
"I promise," Tommy answered.
After they said their prayers, Grandpa Midas tucked Tommy into his bed and gave him this bedtime story:
Once upon a certain year, when John F. Kennedy was President of the United States, there were born two babies who would grow up to be perhaps the two greatest basketball players of the 1990's, if not the two greatest of all time, with the younger of the two being the greater of the two.
In the city of Lagos, Nigeria, in the country of Africa was born a baby by the name of Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon. One month later, in the city of Brooklyn, new York, was born a baby by the name of Michael Jeffrey Jordan.
They both emerged on the national basketball scene as promising freshmen in the 1982 nCAA Final Four, with Jordan's north Carolina Tarheels topping Olajuwon's Houston Cougars in the semifinals before going on to defeat a Patrick ewing—led Georgetown Hoyas in a classic battle in which Jordan made the winning shot.
Before he was introduced to basketball, young Hakeem was an outstanding soccer player, while Michael tried to play basketball, football, and baseball. His love and passion for baseball later led him to decide to retire from basketball while still at the height of his prime so he could pursue a career in major league baseball.
In high school, unfortunately, Michael was cut from the basketball team as a sophomore. But the following summer he worked hard and trained vigorously and established himself as a dominant player.
At about the same time, 15-year-old Hakeem played his very first basketball game and immediately picked up on the game tremendously.
While Michael earned a major basketball scholarship to play for the University of north Carolina under the legendary coach, Dean Smith, Hakeem was only merely offered a visit to the University of Houston for a work out for Coach Guy Lewis.
Impressed by what they saw, the coaching staff immediately made plans for the seven foot tall Hakeem to emigrate from Africa. He improved his skills by going head to head with NBA MVP Moses Malone of the Houston rockets, in pick-up games.
While in college, both Michael and Hakeem established an NCAA Championship rivalry with superstar Patrick Ewing, with Jordan winning in 1982 and Olajuwon falling a little short in 1984.
Hakeem never won a championship in college, but his play was so dominant, he was named the 1983 NCAA Tournament Most Valuable Player of the Year. No one since, from a losing team, has ever been bestowed that honor.
Teamed with superstar Clyde Drexler, Hakeem's Cougars were affectionately known as the PhI Slama Jama, because of their outstanding dunking abilities.
After leading the Houston Cougars to three straight final four appearances and two straight championship games, Hakeem decided to turn pro. Once again, Hakeem found himself being linked to Michael Jordan, who decided to turn pro also, setting up a very talented class for the 1984 NBA draft. Olajuwon was picked first overall by the Houston rockets, while the Chicago Bulls took Jordan third overall. Both players had outstanding rookie years. As a rookie, Michael Jordan averaged 28.2 points per game, while Hakeem olajuwon, still known as Akeem at the time, averaged 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.68 blocks. Olajuwon teamed up with the seven foot four Ralph Sampson to form a dominating tandem known as the original Twin Towers. Together they improved the rockets win total by 19 games. Both Michael and Hakeem lived up to their rookie expectations, with Michael winning the rookie of the Year Award, and Hakeem finishing second.
Jordan's second season was cut short by a broken foot, which caused him to miss 64 games. Yet he still came back in time for the playoffs. Although his Bulls were swept by the high—powered Boston Celtics who were led by superstar Larry Bird, Jordan put together one of the greatest displays in NBA playoffs history by scoring a record 63 points in a single game.
In the same playoffs, Olajuwon made a name for himself, by leading the rockets to shock the defending NBA Champions, Los Angeles Lakers, by easily defeating them four games to one, with Olajuwon outplaying superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Although they made an indomitable effort in the finals, the rockets fell in six games to the highly favored Celtics.
Throughout the late 1980's, both Jordan and Olajuwon continued to make a name for themselves, winning numerous awards, like the MVP in 1988 for Jordan and the epic 1988 slam dunk contest that he won over the great Dominique Wilkins. Yet it was the 1990's when both Jordan and Olajuwon elevated their dominance to another level by becoming the most feared players both offensively and defensively.
From 1991 until 1998, the Chicago Bulls and the Houston Rockets were the only two teams to win the NBA Championship. And from that same period, no other player was named NBA Finals MVP, but Jordan and Olajuwon.
Both players had great footwork ability that made it very difficult for their opponents to defend against them.
Jordan was simply unstoppable and Olajuwon was famous for his signature Dream Shake move that left some of the best defenders misdirected and frozen in their tracks.
In the years of Michael Jordan's championship run, he went head to head with some of the best guards in the game, like Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Gary Payton and John Stockton, leaving no doubt who was the greatest.
In the years of Hakeem Olajuwon's championship run, he went head to head with some of the best centers in the game, like Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Shaquille O'neal, leaving no doubt who was the greatest.
Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and Karl Malone are perhaps three of the greatest players of all time, who never won an NBA Championship. In some of their best legitimate playoff efforts, it was either a team led by Jordan or Olajuwon that deprived them of obtaining a championship.
Excerpted from Once Upon a Certain Year by JOHNNIE LEE MOORE JR. Copyright © 2011 by Johnnie Lee Moore Jr.. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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